Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Machine Gun Kelly
Emma and Stacey are two sisters who have recently moved to a new town. When the town they live in is overrun with a virus caused by parasitic lifeforms. The town goes immediately into quarantine and lockdown. Due to the quarantine, their father is left trapped outside the barrier which allows the sisters to do whatever they want. Little do they realise that the people closest to them will start becoming infected and they must hold up in their home till the town is infection free.
From the two men behind Catfish and Paranormal Activity 3 and 4 comes their take on the viral outbreak/zombie movie. I first took notice of Viral when I first witnessed the overdone, cliched poster featuring the red lips with what appears to be a worm-like creature coming from out between them. The big lips have become a huge thing in horror posters over the last decade. You may remember them from such features and television series as True Blood, Jennifer's Body, Vamps, Antiviral, and Dead Girl.
When I went into this flick. I can't say that I wasn't a tad bit worried about what the outcome might be. I haven't been the biggest fan of their documentary, Catfish as it was all hype and a letdown in the end. Their third and fourth Paranormal Activity films left something to be desired. I was expecting this to be another found footage movie from the guys when watching it but was pleasantly surprised the guys decided to go with traditional storytelling techniques as opposed to the found footage gimmick.
Viral is pretty entertaining from the word go. The movie forgoes any chance to build on any of the characters backstories or add much more to them throughout the film. This is all done in favour of getting the characters straight into the horror, suspense, and action almost immediately. The only character building that we get is finding out the sisters are recently new to the town and that their parents have separated. There isn't that much character building here. This is about the swift pacing.
An element that I enjoyed about Viral was that while this has moments of zombie-like carnage and cannibalism, the movie doesn't really feel like a zombie movie. With the addition of the virus being transferred by blood and parasites using humans as hosts was an almost fresh perspective on what feels like an overrun zombie subgenre. Yes, I'm aware that parasites and hosts aren't some fresh new perspective, but in the way, this story played out, it felt sort of original adding it into what feels like a zombie film.
The movie builds to a rather explosive final. The speed at which this moves towards its ending is rarely mundane. I think the movie even offers a few shocks and gross-out moments in its third act that I wasn't expecting. There is a particular scene where we witness the removal of a parasite that ends up being extremely fun in a very nasty and disgusting way. I think the filmmakers may have watched one too many ingrown hair removal YouTube videos.
The acting is solid for the most part. I found that I really enjoyed the chemistry of our three teens. Sofia Black-D'Elia, Travis Tope, and Analeigh Tipton all worked extremely well together. Machine Gun Kelly is suited at playing the smartass boyfriend of one of the sisters and lastly Michael Kelly from the Dawn Of The Dead remake as the sister's father is also in fine form even if he's only in the movie for all of ten minutes. I could always use more Michael Kelly.
The most significant problems that I had with Viral were all based on the decision to have all the characters do some of the most utterly stupid things that they do in this movie. It comes down to me thinking what I would do in these situations had a virus or parasite infected the town that I lived in. For the writers to send the teenagers to a party, the ending in the house delivers a few shocks but is utterly ridiculous. It's the little moments that are scattered throughout that had my face firmly rested in palms.
Lastly, we get to the overall vibe of the film. Is Viral actually scary? Not really. The movie has one or two substantial jump scares throughout the film, but the movie isn't scary at all. I think the film towards the end is where you'll find most of the suspense. The movie does have a few solid set pieces that try and ramp up the overall sense of tension and dread, but the movie isn't flat out scary. This is scary as you'd expect for a high school movie about viral outbreaks.
DEATH TOLL: 4
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A frog is dissected.
- Video footage of someone coughing up blood.
- People vomiting blood in others faces.
- Gooey parasites are shown.
- The removal of a parasite from a hole in someone's neck.
- Someone's arm is ripped off and eaten.
- Bloody video of parasitic organisms.
- Someone is shot in the head.
- Vomiting blood into someone else's mouth.
- Smacking head against the concrete floor.
Viral isn't highly original or groundbreaking, but for a non-zombie zombie film, it does have all the makings of a flashy, visual, current MTV generation catered horror movie. The movie is never terrifying but moves at such a pace that it's rarely boring. The film also has a great young cast of actors who all deliver decent performances. All in all, it is no masterpiece but more of a guilty pleasure. Just sit down and enjoy the ride. Just don't expect Shakespeare.